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We all want to make a difference in this world and leave it better than how we found it. The trouble is, sometimes we feel that we just don’t have enough time to do everything. We have life commitments, work or school, and the general day-to-day hustle and bustle of life. We’re here to tell you, you can unleash your inner Green Monster in just a few minutes each day.

We’ve compiled this list of five ways you can volunteer when you’re short on time to get you started. After reading them, if you feel motivated, also check out “8 Easy Ways to Make an Impact for Animals and the Environment” and the awesome search engine, Volunteer Match for lots of opportunities. Go ahead, let that Green Monster roar!

1. Call your state representative

This takes less than two minutes. It may take a few minutes to research different social issues in your state that you are passionate about, but after that, calling is a cinch! Also, in many action alerts, organizations provide an easy script about the issue at hand so you can be sure you are getting pertinent information across. Some current issues that need your voice include horse slaughter, food in our nation’s school lunches, and military animal trauma experiments. Contacting your state representative is simple and a great way to make your opinion on an issue known. The House of Representatives makes it simple with a web page that first identifies your representative and then allows you to submit comments directly from their site.

2. Volunteer at a local shelter

Most local animal shelters require an orientation period to become a volunteer, but after this period, you can have more flexibility in your commitment. Even if you are only able to come in to walk dogs for thirty minutes on Monday, or you can help do laundry for just an hour, these commitments still help. The Humane Society of West Michigan offers a Reading with Fido program, where people can do homework, or read to a dog to give the animals some time away from the shelter environment and get used to relaxing around people. Across the U.S. on the west coast, the Nevada Humane Society has opportunities for event volunteers that take place occasionally throughout the year. These are just two small examples, so talk to your local shelter about what you can provide them. Every little bit counts, so don’t think that because you can’t go in each day you wont make a difference, you will!

3. Turn online game-play into volunteer time

If you find yourself just wanting a little break from work or life, instead of browsing Facebook, try one of the following online games that raises funds for a cause!

  • Freerice – The game plays like trivia with categories including vocabulary, humanities, math, science, geography, and even SAT Prep. For each correct answer, the site donates 10 grains of rice to the World Food Programme.
  • Charitii – Simply by playing a fun crossword-style word game, you will be donating valuable resources. In addition, you can choose which charity you want to play for. You can choose to Donate clean water to communities living in extreme poverty, give food to malnourished children and families, provide school education for children around the world, or help protect our rainforests.
  • Goodsearch – It’s not a game, but it is a super easy way to help out. This search engine (powered by Yahoo) donates 1 cent each time you make a search to the charity of your choice! There are also opportunities to Donate when dining out and shopping online.

4. Raise awareness

Everyone can do something to make the world a better place. If you’re simply feeling bogged down or overwhelmed at the prospect of what you can do to help, just take a moment to assess the situation. You can do something, and one of the most important things we can do with new information we find life-changing is to share it with others. Share articles, like this one on how to experience dolphins and whales (hint – it doesn’t involve a marine amusement park) or this one on five bear species that need our help, and by doing so, you’re sharing an important message about how we treat animals and what we can do about it. No one can make the world any different if they don’t know it needs to change, so simply sharing knowledge is a great way to volunteer. Finding a group of people in your workplace to volunteer together is also a wonderful way to build a culture of volunteering, while improving workplace morale.

5. Respect your environment

There are so many different ways you can volunteer to help the environment, it just takes that one first step.

  • Recycle – if you don’t already, it’s really simple to start. Contact your city officials if you have questions on what can be recycled and if there are any additional facilities to take things to like batteries, or empty ink cartridges. Check out the website TerraCycle for ways to recycle nearly everything, and start a Facebook group or website for your community to Support these programs.
  • Volunteer for a city clean up day or organize one! Your local city website should have information on whether or not such a program is offered, and if it’s not, you can make it happen! eHow offers a rough guide on organizing a clean up. Or, take a look at what cities have done something like this in the past like Anchorage’s Annual City Wide Clean Up.
  • Start carpooling – it’s not just for taking the kids to school! Carpool with coworkers in your area to cut down on harmful emissions and save money in the process — a double win!

Image Source: Clotee Allochuku/Flickr